Thiruvananthapuram: Discord in the Congress in Kerala between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala has sharpened after the possibility of the latter`s entry into the state Cabinet with a plum portfolio got dimmed.
What has added a serious dimension to the rumblings over the matter in the last few days is a newspaper interview in which Chennithala had purportedly stated that it would be difficult for him to maintain the same smooth equation with Chandy since he felt that he had been insulted over the ministerial issue.
When reporters today sought his comments, Chennithala said: "I have not given any official interview to anybody", declining to entertain any further queries on the matter.
Heading the state unit for over eight years, Chennithala was recently tipped to join the ministry with a key portfolio after he concluded his month-long `Kerala Yatra` campaign last week.
The move, which reportedly had the tacit approval of Chandy, was also seen as a step to placate Nair community outfit Nair Service Society (NSS), which has accused the UDF government of neglecting the "interests of the majority community."
But moves in that direction hit a roadblock over choice of portfolio for Chennithala. While his supporters are keen that Chennithala should be given Home with the status of Deputy Chief Minister, this has not been acceptable to the Chandy camp. After a round of one-to-one talks last Sunday, Chandy said a cabinet reshuffle was not on the cards.
If initially it was the turn of middle-rung party leaders close to Chennithala to term the development as an insult to their leader, political observers here feel that the issue could snowball into a crisis after the sharp comments Chennithala reportedly made against the Chief Minister.
They expect that the party high command might take note of the development and intervene to settle the issue before it aggravates as restoring organisational unity is vital to equip the party for the Lok Sabha polls.